The eight NBA teams who are already out of the playoffs all face a summer full of questions about how to improve their respective situations for next season. For some, like the Bucks, it'll be more of a fun exercise to try to build on the relative success they had with a young team beginning to come into its own. But for others, like the Pacers and the Clippers, the problems are much larger to solve, and a wrong turn could negatively impact those franchises for years to come.
Here's a look at every team that was eliminated in the first round, and the biggest issue they'll be facing as they begin to make their offseason moves.
Portland Trail Blazers
The issue in Portland is obvious: Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need one more scoring threat to play alongside them in the Blazers' starting lineup. They thought Evan Turner could be that guy, which is why they handed him a contract worth $70 million over four years last summer. But he averaged just 10.3 points per game in the first-round loss to the Warriors, and it's going to be difficult for Portland to trade that contract, or other semi-expensive pieces like Allen Crabbe or Maurice Harkless in order to get the help the team needs.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have the most difficult set of circumstances to deal with this summer, and it's far from clear which decisions the franchise should make. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul can both become unrestricted free agents, and J.J. Redick will be one, too. While L.A. has won at least 51 games for five straight seasons and has neen to the playoffs every year for the last six, the team hasn't been able to put the right combination of talent on the floor to advance past the second round.
The Clippers might want to move on from Doc Rivers in one capacity or another; he holds the title of president of basketball operations as well as being the team's head coach. There's no indication that ownership is leaning that way, however, which means that the personnel needs to change somewhat dramatically if L.A. wants to experience a different postseason result.
The money and the Los Angeles lifestyle might be too much to turn down if the Clippers come calling with max offers for both Griffin and Paul. Griffin's injury history makes that a tougher decision than it should be, and even though he's almost four years younger than Paul, letting him walk (or arranging a sign-and-trade) may be the best way for the franchise to move past its current state of existence.
Oklahoma City Thunder
We laid out the Thunder's issues pretty concisely on the night they were eliminated from the postseason. If they're not going to play Enes Kanter, they need to trade him. They need to add another star to play alongside Russell Westbrook. And the franchise needs to do a better job of developing the young players on the roster.
But the biggest issue facing Oklahoma City is figuring out how to utilize the fury of Westbrook's game to play a better brand of team basketball. He had the highest usage rate in NBA history this season and often would shoot the ball without a single pass taking place on an offensive possession. He just finished a season in which he had the greenest of lights, but despite the gaudy numbers that are likely to win him the MVP, the Thunder finished just 10th in the league-wide standings, and went 1-4 in the playoffs before their first-round exit.
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The Grizzlies have Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Chandler Parsons on max-level deals for at least the next two years, and they probably aren't going anywhere unless Parsons can stay healthy and play like the borderline All-Star the team thought it was getting when it handed him that big-money deal last summer. That seems like a long shot at best, and with Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and Tony Allen all becoming unrestricted free agents, there should be some room to freshen up the rotation because it's tough to see Memphis overpaying those guys just to maintain the status quo.
The Grizzlies need one more real offensive threat alongside Conley and Gasol to make any kind of jump in the standings. There's a reason this team has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in three of the last four years -- the core group of talent simply isn't good enough to do any better than it has.
The Bulls made a late-season surge to secure a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season and went up 2-0 on the top-seeded Celtics before a thumb injury sidelined Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the postseason.
Chicago's biggest issue is this: The team needs to pick a direction, and it needs to stick to it.
Bringing in aging players like Rondo and Dwyane Wade to play alongside Jimmy Butler wasn't going to result in a title run and only made an already strange situation that much more confusing. The Bulls should let Rondo go and attempt to grab a young point guard who can guide the team toward the future, and they should definitely not trade Jimmy Butler, an All-Star talent who only keeps getting better on both ends of the floor.
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The Bucks are perhaps the only team on this list that doesn't need to do all that much. Milwaukee has young talent all over the roster and simply needs to allow it to continue to develop to improve upon this season's results.
Center Greg Monroe has a player option for $17.8 million next season, and though he could very well get a long-term deal worth more than that if he chooses to leave in free agency, his reduced role as a backup big man isn't worth nearly that much. If Monroe leaves, the Bucks will obviously need to replace his 11.7 points in 22.5 minutes with someone else.
Jabari Parker should theoretically be back from (another) torn ACL injury at some point next season, which should provide the Bucks with a built-in boost. Beyond all that, simply stay the course -- let Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker continue to improve, and the rest will work itself out.
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Here's what you need to know about the Hawks: Dwight Howard, who averaged eight points in 26.2 minutes per game in the first-round loss to the Wizards, is the highest-paid player on the roster.
Paul Millsap has been an All-Star in each of the last four years and was Atlanta's leading scorer during the regular season. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer, but at 32 years old, do you really want to offer him a max contract that could potentially be on the books for the next five years? It's an extremely tough decision for a franchise that's been to the playoffs for 10 straight seasons but has been to the conference finals once.
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The big question for the Pacers revolves around Paul George and the fact that he can leave as an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Larry Bird stepped down as president of basketball operations in Indiana, and it's unclear what impact that may have on George's upcoming decision.
The Pacers have exactly one offseason to prove to George that they can add the talent around him necessary to send the franchise trending in a positive direction. It won't be easy because Indiana hasn't historically been a desirable free-agent destination, and the team doesn't have a ton of assets to trade for a star-level player who could impact things immediately.
If they can't manage any kind of quick fix, then the Pacers need to get as much as they can for George in trade to begin the rebuilding process. But the longer they wait to do so, the lower the return will be, which makes this one of the trickier situations on our list.